The Rundown: January 29, 2013

This is what Max Patch should look like.

Max Patch Vandalized by Vehicles

Iconic Max Patch Bald near Hot Springs, N.C. regularly attracts hikers, kite flyers, and general outdoor adventurers to its peak during the warm seasons, and sledders during the winter. This winter, however, the bald peak has been attracting a much different, and more destructive crowd: vandals driving off road vehicles to the summit and doing doughnuts. Tire tracks scar the top of Max Patch, which is closed to vehicle traffic and is the site of a section of the Appalachian Trail. The perpetrators have been cutting barb wire fences for access, ripping up the “no motor vehicles” signage and then tearing up the turf with their cool trucks and all around machismo – there were also bullet holes in some of the signs. Volunteers keep putting the pieces back together, but the vandals just tear it up again, ruining it for everyone. Authorities say they are doing their best to catch these idiots, but these people are obviously locals and know when and how to get away with such brazen law breaking.

If you know any of the over-compensating morons inflicting this senseless damage to Max Patch, please do everyone a favor and call the Forest Service Appalachian Ranger District office at 828-689-9694 or the Asheville Office at 828-257-4200.

GSMNP’s Newfound Gap Road Repair to cost up to $7.2 million

On January 16, 2013, heavy rain caused a landslide that wiped out a portion of the Newfound Gap Road inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A 200-foot section of the road was undercut near mile marker 22 and the slide extended an estimated 1000 feet down the slope under nearly 8.5 inches of rain in the days leading up to the incident. APAC- Atlantic, Harrison Division was scheduled to begin the first phase of reconstruction yesterday and will take several weeks to build an access road and stabilize the slope. The actual road reconstruction is still out for bid and will be awarded by mid-February. That phase is expected to cost between $3-7 million in addition to the current $200,000 bill for phase one. The road will remain closed to thru-traffic indefinitely, but visitors are still able to access the Newfound Gap from the Tennessee side of the park and to Smokemont Campground from the Cherokee side.

Final Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest Trail Strategy Meetings Set

From the Boring But Important files comes news that the U.S. National Forest Service in North Carolina has set dates and locations for the last two meetings of the Non-motorized Trail Strategy Initiative for the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests. With more trails, and trail users, than ever but the same number of funds and staff charged with maintaining them, the National Forest Service began the Initiative to bring together trail users to develop a long term management plan. They are also hoping to recruit more volunteers to help maintain the trails, which are used by hikers, bikers, and equestrians. In the final meetings, Forest Service agents will outline key elements of the Trail Strategy Draft document. They will also post the draft online here in the next couple of weeks.

The Pisgah meeting will be February 14 from 6-8pm in the Mountain View Conference Room of the UNCA Sherrill Center in Asheville, N.C. The Nantahala meeting will be February 19 from 6-8pm in Tartan Hall, First Presbyterian Church in Franklin, N.C.

Places to Go, Things to See: